Finding Inspiration In Community
During the last year of my time at Orchard Hill, my barn schedule was pretty much the opposite of everyone else's. I ended up riding by myself most days, and after dark at that, so company and fresh ideas were in short supply.
At our new barn, however, there's always at least one other person riding at the same time as me, and generally a pretty good crowd of 9-5'ers hanging out there on weekday evenings. It's been really encouraging and motivating for me to know that there will always be smiling faces and a warm, bright barn to go to after work even when it's so dark and cold out. Between the shorter drive, the indoor, and always having a friend around to ride with, I've felt a lot more motivated to go to the barn after work so far this winter!
New friends also mean new ideas, and I'm finding inspiration in watching what my fellow boarders are working on with their horses. The farm has a great mix of dressage riders, eventers, pleasure riders and hunter/jumper riders, and everyone is at a different point with their horses' training. Being able to watch other riders has been an enormous boost to my creativity when structuring my own rides, and it's giving me a fresh take on how to keep on improving with Dino.
The other night, I rode with a fellow eventer who has an absolutely lovely young hose that is pointed at levels far beyond what I'd ever dream of. We were both doing a bit of jumping that evening, and while I had planned on just cruising around over the single crossrail, cavaletti, and "big" 2'3" vertical that were set, my riding buddy had much more fun things in mind! She set a skinny made out of a single jump block and V poles, and as I watched her jump that fence and incorporate it into all kinds of fun bending lines and combinations, I realized that Dino and I could be doing that sort of thing, too.
Which is not really a ground-breaking thought, but something clicked in my brain as I watched her ride, and I remembered that there's a lot that can be done in an arena to keep us both interested. I've been feeling a little lost without access to the great outdoors and a huge piece of hilly property, and haven't quite known what to do with myself in an indoor. At Orchard Hill, we could always just take off on a hack, do hill work, or go for a gallop if we wanted. There was always somewhere to go. And while the indoor is such a huge blessing, I don't really know what to do in there!
So I find myself very thankful to be at a place with such a diverse, interesting group of riders, and especially other eventers who are interested in putting lots of different types of jumps in the ring and setting interesting exercises. Being able to watch and talk with lots of other riders is something I didn't know I was missing, and I'm happy to be surrounded by all of their creative minds.